Lawsuit: Injured jail inmate died after calling for help 19 times
MCMINNVILLE, Ore. (KATU) - Disturbing video and interviews have been released in a lawsuit over an inmate's death at the Yamhill County Jail.
A lawyer said the jail's staff ignored the inmate, writhing in pain, after he tried 19 times to call for help.
The lawsuit, filed Monday against the jail and several staff members, was first reported by The Oregonian.
An attorney for the county told KATU they have no comment on this "active litigation."
Nearly two years ago, Jed Myers, 34, was being held at the jail for a parole violation.
Matthew D. Kaplan, a lawyer for Myers' estate, said on May 27, 2015, his last night behind bars, jail staff "acted with a conscious disregard for Mr. Myers' right to life.”
Kaplan said the events leading to Myers' death started around 7:25 p.m. when deputies found Myers after two inmates had severely beaten him in his cell.
"He was sweaty and panting and he said his chest hurt," Deputy Intern Colleen McNamara says in one of several recorded interviews released by Kaplan. "And I said, 'Where does it hurt?' And he touched his stomach."
Deputies said Myers appeared to also have a head injury and a dislocated shoulder.
They escorted him from his cell to another one in the medical unit.
Inmates along the way noticed Myers was in pain.
“He had to stop and, like, he was holding his side and he had to lean up against a wall," Jacob Gonzales, an inmate, says in another recorded interview. "And they were, like, ‘Can you sit down?’ and he was, like, ‘Oh, it hurts, I’m in pain,' like, he was, like, screaming.”
Once inside the medical cell, deputies said they noticed Myers was hurt.
Through a cell camera, they could see him moving around.
A medical technician came in to examine him. He took Myers' pulse at 130 but gave up on trying to take his blood pressure and left.
"The thing that stuck out is he was … rapid heart rate and sweaty," Kevin Thurman, the medical technician, said. "And you can't, you can't fake being sweaty."
Kaplan said the medical technician's shift ended at 10 p.m. that night.
As hours went by, Kaplan said the video shows Myers getting up to press an intercom button next to the door 19 times to beg for help.
At one point, Kaplan said Myers urinated blood into the toilet, which multiple deputies saw but dismissed as a red drink or jelly.
"It's was very watery. It was water but it was red," said Deputy Kiera Downs. "That was kind of odd to me and I asked the sergeant what we have in the food that's red and he said, 'Kool-Aid.'"
At 12:33 a.m. Myers' head, propped in a corner, suddenly slumped forward.
Deputies went inside and discovered he was dead.
In the recordings, one jail deputy says guards sometimes silenced cell intercoms when an inmate was "very needy." Kaplan said it's unclear whether the intercom in Myers' cell was being heard.
Kaplan says Myers left behind a daughter who was 3 years old at the time of his death.
The lawsuit seeks at least $12 million in economic and non-economic damages as well as punitive damages, which are not specified.